Author : Sir John Arthur Thomson (1861-1933)

Title : The Position of Woman (1911)

Keywords: Havelock Ellis, dimorphism, women, motherhood, evolution, anatomy, education, biology

Pages : Intro 9 10 11 12 13 14


In this article on the role of women – ‘biologically considered’ - written with the aid of his wife, J. Arthur Thomson pursues the implications of sexual ‘dimorphism’ – a complete biological difference between the sexes extending from anatomical traits, such as length of limbs, emotional and intellectual capabilities: ‘The characteristic masculine and feminine features are part and parcel of the normal man and woman, deeply rooted not tacked on’. Male and female differences, then, are seen as part of a comprehensive package, shaped by the millennia of evolution. Though Thomson slips back and forth between biological ‘facts’ and rather anecdotal evidence, he shows himself to be aware of the dangers of such generalisation and the later pages of the article exhibit a sophisticated attempt to tease out the competing demands faced by women, in terms of motherhood, education and professional life, each of which may have its own implications for the health of the race.

Pages : Intro 9 10 11 12 13 14

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